JOHNSTON, Iowa - Newt Gingrich chided his GOP presidential opponents in a new TV ad for going negative, and said separately Thursday that his checkered personal history wouldn't be to blame if he begins losing voter support in the run-up to Iowa's caucuses.
In an interview taped for Iowa Public Television, Gingrich said there would be some volatility in the polling ahead of the Jan. 3 precinct caucuses - the first votes of the GOP nominating contest - because of the attacks he has been subjected to on the airwaves.
"If you look at the amount of negative ads being run in Iowa by my opponents, I would be very surprised if we didn't see some ups and downs over the next three weeks," he said.
Rival Mitt Romney's latest attempt to sully Gingrich has been to cast him as an unreliable leader. Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum also have stepped up their criticism as Gingrich has surged in Iowa and other states.
Perry's campaign piled on Thursday with a new television ad in Iowa that casts both Gingrich and Romney as Washington insiders lacking conservative credentials.
Perry is portrayed as an outsider in an attempt to make the struggling candidate more appealing to voters who have had it with career politicians being in charge in Washington.
"Gingrich and Romney. Insiders," a voice says in the spot, adding that Perry's plan to create jobs and overhaul Washington "make him the outsider political insiders fear most."
In his latest ad, Gingrich said voters wanted to hear politicians offer solutions for the nation's problems, not personal attacks.
"These are challenging and important times for America. We want and deserve solutions," Gingrich said in the ad running in Iowa, trying to stay above the fray while still poking at his opponents. "Others seem to be more focused on attacks rather than moving the country forward. That's up to them."
Gingrich didn't name any of his rivals, but it's clear he was referring to them.
Romney and his allies have unleashed an aggressive effort to derail Gingrich during campaign events, media interviews, and independent advertising.
Despite the attacks, Gingrich said Thursday that he had surged ahead because voters were looking past his troubled personal history for a candidate who has had big achievements.
Some of Gingrich's rivals have tried to exploit his confessions of marital infidelity, three wives, and ethical problems while representing Georgia in Congress.
"I think voters have rendered judgment, and they understand my weaknesses and they understand my strengths," Gingrich said. "They believe that at a time when the country is in deep trouble, they want somebody who has big solutions and somebody who has a track record of getting big things done."
Gingrich said that as House speaker, he balanced the federal budget and overhauled welfare, and that those accomplishments outweigh his negatives. He added that he was comfortable with voters getting to know him and said they had accepted his explanations of his past personal misconduct. "It's a balanced judgment, and I'm very open to people getting to know me and getting to understand me," Gingrich said. "Part of it is that people accept the sincerity of my willingness to talk about my life."